Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Key step allowing cell migration

10.07.2003


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have discovered a prime regulator of the mechanism by which human cells migrate in health and in illness, a process crucial to sustaining life.



Their work helps explain how cells can stick to a surface long enough to pull themselves and move forward and then release that grip so that they can continue and not be anchored to one spot.

Cai Huang, a graduate student about to complete his doctorate in cell and developmental biology at the UNC School of Medicine, led the project. He and colleagues showed for the first time that an important enzyme known as JNK, which is involved in many cell regulatory pathways, also controls a central and complex step in the biochemical process.


A report on their work appears in the July 10 issue of Nature, the top British science journal. Co-authors are Drs. Ken Jacobson and Michael Schaller, professors of cell and developmental biology; Dr. Zenon Rajfur, research assistant professor of cell and developmental biology; and Dr. Christoph Borchers, assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics and faculty director of the UNC Proteomics Core Facility.

"Cell migration is involved in a variety of normal and pathological events in life, including embryo development, wound healing and the abnormal, life-threatening movement of cancer cells that doctors call metastasis," Jacobson said. "Cai’s work demonstrates how phosphorylation of a single serine residue of an important protein component of cell adhesion, paxillin, can regulate cell migration."

Phosphorylation is a major signal in biology that involves joining a phosphorus group to specific amino acids, one of the ways living things regulate functions of proteins, he said. A serine residue is one of the 20 or so amino acids that are linked together in various combinations to form the many different proteins found in cells.

"For cells to be able to move, they must have adhesions that can break down from time to time," Jacobson said. "If they were permanent--in other words too sticky--the cell would be stuck. The new work shows this phosphorylation event is important in signaling the cell to disassemble some of its adhesions so that it can move."

The experiments were done on both fish scale cells and rat bladder tumor cells. They identify a specific biochemical pathway by which signals from outside cells--provided by hormones and growth factors--can regulate cell locomotion, he said. Understanding the complex cascade of molecular events could become a key to solving the mystery of how to stop cancer cells in their tracks, like nailing shoes to the floor.

"Another significance of this study is beyond cell migration," Huang said. "Previously, JNK was thought to function solely in cell nuclei. Our finding that paxillin, which is called a focal adhesion protein, is a target for the JNK enzyme indicates that JNK also plays an important role in cytoplasm, which is outside the nucleus."

Thus, the experiments greatly expand knowledge of what JNK does, he said.

"We expect to identify more cytoplasmic JNK targets in the near future," Huang said.



Besides cell and developmental biology, the researchers are affiliated with UNC’s Comprehensive Center for Inflammatory Disorders, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and department of biochemistry and biophysics.

Grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Cell Migration Consortium and the National Institute for Dental and Cranial Research supported the studies.

Note: Jacobson and Huang can be reached at 919-966-5703, frap@med.unc.edu or cai_huang@med.unc.edu.

David Williamson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water world
20.11.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis

nachricht Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity
20.11.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>